Everyone gets pulled over eventually. Sometimes it’s because of a perceived violation, other times it’s because the officer noticed something rote about the car and needs to either confirm your safety or inform you of an unsafe situation (for example, if you have a broken head- or tail light).
The most important thing to remind yourself is that whatever you have been pulled over for, it likely isn’t criminal. You are not likely to be arrested or taken to jail – so relax, stay calm, and follow this simple list of dos and don’ts.
- Pull over as quickly as possible when the lights come on – showing compliance from the start will put the officer more at ease.
- Put the car in park and turn off the radio. Make sure your car is as far off the road as possible and set your hazards to blink.
- Wait patiently for the officer to approach the vehicle. Keep your hands on the steering wheel. Reach slowly for paperwork when it is requested.
- Open the window just enough to communicate easily and exchange paperwork. Address the officer with respect at all times. You want this interaction to be as routine and unmemorable as possible.
- Say as little as possible during the stop. If the situation does get messy, you want to be able to argue your case in court, and not at the scene.
- Don’t volunteer information or directly answer any question that can be construed as an admission of guilt. That includes saying, “I’m sorry,” or answering in the affirmative if asked, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” Ask the officer to explain the factors that led to the stop, and do not deny, affirm, or defend the actions he or she alleges.
- Don’t get hostile or defensive.
- Try not to cry or get emotional. Being calm and assertive will carry you through the stressful situation faster than tears will.
- Don’t be intimidated into silence, but don’t avoid reasonable questions if you can help it. If you are skirting questions, the officer is likely to get more stern. Stand your ground, but maintain your composure. Remember, you have the right to remain silent. Use it when you feel that you should.
- Don’t use your phone or turn the radio back on while you wait. If you are issued a citation, take it without complaint; you can always appeal it in court.
If you follow these simple guidelines, you are likely to not only get through the stop with a minimum of difficulty, you are also very likely to win your case in court or, at a minimum, have the charges reduced so they don’t affect your driving record.